Literary papers and letters of Malcolm Elwin, including: Introductions to Heron books and MacDonalds Classics series, including correspondence; typescript copies of early essays from 1920s and 1930s; correspondence with Macdonalds; correspondence relating to the letters of K.E Henley; diary for 1971; 1 file of articles and essays; correspondence, including literary letters and other assorted letters to family, doctor, literary agents, and other friends and correspondents.
Malcolm Elwin additional papers
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Administrative / Biographical History
Malcolm Elwin was born in 1903, the son of a Nottingham businessman. He was privately educated and became a student at University College, Oxford, but seems to have left without a degree in order to embark on a literary career. As that career progressed during the 1930s he corresponded with many of the figures of the literary establishment, some of whom are represented in the archive. The archive contains a number of letters to J. C. Squire and other journal editors, showing Elwin's early attempts to gain a foothold on the inter-war literary shores of London. Elwin lived in North Stoke, Oxfordshire, during his first marriage, but eloped to North Devon with Eve Conelly and her two daughters from her marriage to the American biographer, Willard Connely, during the 1930s. Elwin was a prolific biographer, critic and editor and his oeuvre included biographies of Charles Reade (1931), Thackeray (1932), de Quincey (1935), Llewelyn Powys (1946), and Robert Louis Stevenson (1950). He also edited letters from John Cowper Powys to his brother Llewelyn Powys (original letters now in Austin, Texas) and from Llewelyn to Gamel Woolsey, and books on literary criticism including popular Victorian literature (Victorian Wallflowers, 1934), and the Romantics (The First Romantics, 1947). Later in his career, he published perhaps his best-known work on Lord Byron's wife, Annabella Milbanke which caused enormous controversy in The Times Literary Supplement when first published in 1963 and for which he had exclusive access to the Lovelace papers. This was followed by Lord Byron's Family, Annabella, Ada and Augusta (edited by Professor Peter Thomson in 1975 after Elwin's death). Elwin's first book, A Playgoer's Handbook to Restoration Drama, was published in 1928, but his biography of Charles Reade (1931) is more characteristic of his oeuvre. As a biographer, he was never afraid of making judgments on his subjects. He also had a passionate interest in cricket. Having founded a famous cricket club, the South Oxfordshire Amateurs, during his residency in North Stoke, Elwin later played for, and became the historian of, the Devon Dumplings. Although Elwin transferred his cricket loyalties to the south west, he was all too conscious of his remoteness from the literary 'centre' during the rest of his life, spent successively on the coastal fringes of Parracombe, Woody Bay and Putsborough, North Devon.
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